Chase A Dream and Cold Chisel's rivalry heats up

By Michael Guerin

We could be in for a repeat of sibling rivalry at the highest level of age group pacing this season.

Because it was hard to watch Chase A Dream narrowly hold out Cold Chisel in the three-year-old race at Alexandra Park on Friday night without thinking of their two stablemates a year older.

For much of the last 18 months we have enjoyed the Don’t Stop Dreaming versus Merlin show, which moves to Sydney for the next month then on to the Race by Grins.

Trained by brothers in Mark and Barry Purdon, with help from Nathan Purdon and Scott Phelan, the DSD v Merlin is great fun and there is a fair chance Chase A Dream and Cold Chisel could give us round two.

Both are in Auckland to start their three-year-olds careers heading to the Harness Million next Friday and then on to the Northern Derby.

Chase A Dream had slightly the better of the draws in the 1700m three-year-old race on Friday and used it, blasting to the front and rarely giving his supporters any real for concern. Until the last 50m.

That was when Cold Chisel, who was taken back at the start by Zachary Butcher, flew late and only missed by a head, his effort enormous considering the winner paced his last 800m in 56.6 seconds.

Chase A Dream’s driver Mark Purdon suggested he will improve but so too will Cold Chisel and the draw for their Harness Million clash next Friday will be crucial.

Better Knuckle Up in third was also good enough to suggest he is an group race player while The Surfer was very solid first time up in the big time and Vessem made ground late.

Later in the night it was the same two stables quinellaing the main pace but without the drama as Merlin led all the way to beat Self Assured.

The race panned out pretty much as everybody expected, Merlin strolling to the front and only having to buzz up the Alexandra Park straight in 26.4 seconds to beat Self Assured, who went back to last and did a good job from there.

Mach Shard, racing free-legged, was a brave enough third to suggest he will get his turn again one day when the absolute best aren’t there.

“It was almost perfect to get the win and another run before we head to Sydney,” said Butcher.

“He is going to need to be better again in a few weeks over there and if we both make it I’d love him to draw inside Don’t Stop Dreaming in the Chariots.”

Butcher also confirmed he will be sticking with Merlin for The Race By Grins, which he secured a slot to this week, meaning former owner Josh Dickie is likely to be reunited with Old Town Road, who has been Butcher’s open class drive the last 18 months, should he get an invite.

Earlier in the night Artisan gave the Purdon/Phelan team another win when she led throughout to beat the star three-year-old fillies in a rare case of losing Hawera form shining at Alexandra Park, her case helped by a good aggressive driver from Crystal Hackett.

But there was enough to like about the late charge from Coastal Babe to suggest she is the one to beat on Friday if she can draw well.

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